"I just had sex. Holy shit." That's how The Diary of a Teenage Girl opens. Right off the bat, it's clear this film isn't your conventional coming of age story. It really isn't. What the film is, is audacious and bold and outgoing.

With all the 100+ films showing at Edinburgh Film Festival this year, Diary of a Teenage Girl is, by far, the weirdest the festival has to offer. From everything to style and plot, this is a movie that bursts with audacity and "exudes sexuality." Whilst the name may bring to mind a childish tone - think Diary of a Wimpy Kid and you're on the right lines - Marielle Heller's directorial debut is anything but.

Minnie Gets (Bel Powley) is a fifteen year old girl, living in 1976 San Francisco. Self-conscience about her looks, all she wants from life is for someone to love and admire her. Upon seducing her mum's boyfriend, Munroe (Alexander Skårsgard), on a night out, she loses her virginity and the film is quickly afoot. What follows is Minnie trying to realise herself as a teenager; the problems her relationship with Munroe present and an addiction for sex that begins to cling onto her and affect her and her family. Honestly, describing the plot of this film is hard. Why? Because there really isn't a cohesive, solid storyline as you'd expect. The film is, quite literally, a diary and highlights some of Minnie's more prominent articles in life.

The acting in this film is, overall, quite good. Bel Powley absolutely kills it in the lead role, so seductive and full of charisma. You really believe her as this, at first, vulnerable young teen who completely goes off the rails and becomes a whole new person. Her confidence is boastful and her maturity captured to a par. She is matched equally by the laid back, effervescent Kristen Wiig - who we empathise with as this lost mother and when she goes into an emotional state.
Alexander Skårsgard is good too, just his performance seems underwhelming compared to that of Powley and Wiig. He is fine as Munroe but never spectacular. His acting goes from not being bothered to over the top. The emotion just never seems to be potent, from him, and you never really buy into his supposed love for Minnie and his passion in their relationship.

One major complaint I have towards The Diary of a Teenage Girl is that, whilst the message of the film is a poignant, resonating one about adulthood and growing up - the plot of the film can become so in-cohesive and convoluted. With no solid structure, the plot can go off in all sorts of directions and it means that aside from our main trio, the characters are very undeveloped and one-dimensional. There's also a lot of subplots that are touched upon but never really explored in-depth. It can be admired for its daring, audacious approach but it gets muddied and confused every now and then.

Aside from that, the film isn't actually too bad. The style and the narrative of the film is so unusual yet profound. Minnie's an aspiring artist so we, occasionally, get to see her drawings come to life to tell the story - taking a step into Minnie's mind and really getting a better idea of the way she views the world and thinks about it - and it's a joy to watch. The tone of the film is so bouncy and the 1976 time period this film is set in is really made believable by the old-school fashion and way of life. There's an odd profanity about the proceedings and about the way Heller has approached the project.

VERDICT:
Bold, funny and unusually profound, The Diary of a Teenage Girl is anything but your typical coming-of-age story. Powley excels in the lead role in what is a unique, competent indie.
★★☆

The Diary of a Teenage Girl opens August 7th, 2015.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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